HISTORY OF THE KITTEN


| May/June 1958



The sawmill

The last Kitten engine built is owned by Joe F. Lueken, Ferdinand, Indiana. He used it on his sawmill. See the Kitten story.

We are greatly indebted to Mr. Jesse Conour, R. D. 3, Evansville, Indiana, for this article which was published in the Sunday Courier and Press. Both the Press and  their very generous Editor, Mr. R. H. Kirkpatrick have given us permission to copy the same. I am sure we all appreciate this.

THE KITTEN WAS ONE of the lesser known makes of engines and it may be new to some of you. However, they played an important role in the threshing industry. There is one at the Pontiac Reunion, owned by Wilbur Collins.

Mr. Conour gives us some interesting history of that section of Indiana where the Kitten was built. We here quote part of his letter:

(Speaking of Ferdinand, Indiana). 'They have their own railroad which is six miles long connecting with the Southern at Huntingburg. They had a little Porter engine until a few years ago when they got a coal oil engine. Stinks too.

That man Kitten knew what he wanted and built it. He had to have something light and strong for the hills around there. The farmers there sure can raise wheat on those hillsides, and are they steep. Three years ago I was up there and saw horses pulling a binder where a tractor would have turned over. The threshing machine had to go where the wheat was so something had to be done. They put wings on the separators. They were somewhat smaller than 2x4's which were hinged to the 'BOX' as they call the separator down south. The wings would fold back against the separator when not in use. When the outfit was going around a side hill a few men could unfold the wings, some on one side and some on the other. The ones on the up hill pushed down and those on the downhill side pushed up. So then everything got on without turning over. Then if the engine wanted to climb her gears going up a stiff hill a bunch of men would be ready to throw a rope over the water tank and hold down. Then up the hill she would go and steam, they really do.

I watched a crew set up and start threshing one time. The engineer backed into the belt, blocked the wheels and started up. Just as soon as they started bundles were going in the machine. The engine was doing a hula dance. He only had 115 lbs. of steam and couldn't hit the fire door. Soon he got in enough to hold her. Then he took an armful of wooden blocks and wedges and started to drive them here and there, and when he got done she set there like a rock.